Amanda and her friend Ally were very busy in the kitchen, but this did not prevent them from greeting us at the door with open smiles and open arms. Shoes out, people in, in the traditional North American way of visiting a friend’s house. The only detail: Amanda and Ally were not our friends.

Nevertheless, they were receiving us at their house to cook for us, completely strangers. My husband and I were not the only strangers that night. Karan and Divya, from India, and Nancy, from Taiwan, also were there to be fed by an unknown person. James, from England, and Eponine, France, completed our group. They were the only ones that knew Amanda before. However, their acquaintance didn’t come from the traditional school/neighborhood/office circles. Having started with Airbnb, it was the fruit of another new circle: the sharing economy.

Before going up for Amanda’s apartment, we were approached by a reporter from the NHK (below), a Japanese television network, who requested our authorization to film our dinner. That night, a dinner, a TV show and an experiment (mine) were happening. So fun!Sharing-Economy-Feastly-NHK-Japan-Broadcast

How does Feastly work

All this came together thanks to Feastly, the first business I decided to test in “The Share Experiment.” My friend Priscila Martinez asked why I’m starting with the sharing in the food sector. Besides being a passion of mine, food is one of the most primal of human rituals. For thousands and thousands of years, we’ve gathered and socialized around food. However, the current reduced size of families and the hectic daily life have contributed to the decrease of the importance of sharing a meal. Moreover, although restaurants are a place to exercise this habit, they don’t seem to substitute an informal, loud, fun, warm and friendly home feast. Another friend, Gleusa Castro Hovic told me that in Norway sharing a meal among friends is still a well practiced habit, they hardly go to restaurants. However, in big cities like São Paulo (Brazil) or here in the San Francisco Bay Area I feel that restaurants are much more in use.

So, off to Feastly I went! I learned about it through “The Future of Business Models,” by Jeremiah Owyang at SlideShare. SlideShare by itself is a business of the share economy, but we’ll talk about this later.

Feastly is still in beta launch. The site is neat, friendly and very easy to use. You can either register as a guest/feaster or host/cook. The later was my option. I was promptly contacted by Lauren, their responsible for community relations. As part of the vetting process, they speak personally with each potential chef. We had a delightful conversation and shared our passion for food and traveling. In addition to the call, Lauren asked me to read and observe the rules & recommendations, especially the ones related to food safety. On the next day, I would meet Noah Karesh, one of Feastly founders, checking on Amanda’s dinner.

Important aspects of the sharing economy

The curation is an aspect I’ve noticed to be very relevant to the sharing economy. As technology makes connecting people easier, the personal care makes it reliable. After all, in the case of Feastly, this is not a restaurant service, but rather a friend cooking for a friend. A whole different set of rules, rights and obligations is in place. And that must be so disturbing for traditional business models and traditional mind sets!

The very same day I was approved to be a cook with Feastly, I found out about Amanda’s dinner. I registered, paid with PayPal (you have to have a PayPal account). The Fall Celebration meal was to be held on the next day.

Amanda and Ally served their seven guest in a perfectly clean, well arranged and welcoming room, with nice music and fresh flowers. They even offered us a beer, although Feastly meals are BYOB. The night’s menu: fresh and tasty Fig and Eggplant Salad, truly delicious Braised Oxtail with Creamy Risotto and Scotch Bonnet Salsa (my mouth is watering as I write!), and pumpkin cookie and ice cream sandwich. (Note do myself: carry the good camera around for this experiment! Sorry, guys, for the lousy pics).

Sharing-Economy-Salad-Fig-Eggplant Sharing-Economy-Feastly-Risoto-Oxtail Sharing-Economy-Feastly-Pumpkin-Cookie-Sandwich

The price of a meal in the sharing economy

The final touch? Each guest paid only US$ 5. Yes, five dollars (plus 50 cents for Feastly’s fee). My husband and I had the dinner describe above for the incredible low amount of 11 dollars. The usual price for the meals offered at the website is a bit higher, around US$ 15 or US$ 20, but I guess Amanda and Ally, professional chefs, wanted to try new recipes – and exercise generosity with fellow humans.

November 13th is my turn; check the delicious menu I prepared for my surprise guests. I wanted to invite you all to join me and share this experience, but guess what? By the time I’m finishing this post, my meal is already SOLD OUT! How about checking other chefs’ invitations or maybe post a comment down here, tell your friends and let me know if I should open another date… the sharing power is also in your hands.

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The Share Experiment – Food: The new homemade that is challenging restaurants
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